The way that Beyond Boundaries encourages nonlinear academic and life pathways is very exciting to me. I think that this program has taught me that exploration and flux are needed in my academic experience, and I love that I still find myself being surprised and engaged in any new connection that I make across fields.

Kyla Kikkawa, one of the first Beyond Boundaries Program students in the Class of 2023, has grown incredibly during her time at Washington University thus far. Hailing from Altadena, CA, Kyla knew that Wash U, “something new in the Midwest,” was the place for her. Not only has she gotten to explore a number of disciplines, but her first visit confirmed her ability to “make wonderful academic and personal connections on campus.”

Now, as a third year student, she has had the opportunity to explore her combined interests of the arts, medicine, therapy, and science at both the Danforth and Medical campuses. She beautifully shares:

I have come to realize that although a combination of two fields (arts and neuroscience) may encompass most of my interdisciplinary interests, my passion lies more deeply in the network of activities, experiences, and growth that are hallmarks of the mind-body connection. I have explored opportunities at the Institute of Public Health and the Occupational Therapy departments at WashU as well as particular courses such as Music Sound and the Body, an ethnomusicology course. Through exploring specific programs at WashU and Beyond Boundaries courses, I have generated more interest, confidence, and fluency in the fields of psychological research, occupational therapy, geriatric and aging medicine, human-centered design, and St. Louis history.

In addition to Kyla’s academic pursuits, there are some exciting on-campus movement/musical activities that she has engaged with: WUHHU, “Washington University’s premier dance team that showcases a number of styles from hip hop to jazz funk,” as well as Staam, Wash U’s Jewish A Cappella group. Kyla celebrates “the excitement and the connections sparked by the arts” and over time has come to recognize and value the “purity” of connecting with other people.

Our program is proud to share some of Kyla’s achievements:

First Year:

  • Winning the ‘My Name is Service’ award for my volunteer work in music therapy through “Cadence with Care” at the Campus Y
  • Getting chosen to speak and share my name and my story at a dinner with the Board of Trustees
  • Performing in Wash U’s Legally Blonde show

Second Year:

  • Being a participant in the Institute of Public Health’s Aging and Neurological Diseases Research Program in 2020 and publishing an article titled, “Exploring a human-centric field in our remote society
  • Being a Washington University Student Associate (WUSA) to a cohort of 20 incoming students
  • Assuming the role of Co-Head Choreographer on WUHHU (choreography at 3:40 mark in THIS VIDEO):

Third Year:

  • One full year of Krumping in St. Louis with the Arch Maddnezz Community!
  • In person performances with Staam, WUHHU (featuring my own choreography), Arch Maddnezz, and Wash U’s PAD’s Dance Department
  • New connections, friendships in St. Louis and California, and I’m looking forward to making more in Santiago, Chile

As she looks into the future, Kyla hopes to continue her current work while seeing how her journey leads her to graduate school. She strongly feels that one of her most important purposes in life is to “get people around me moving!”